The USS Ranger (CV-4) was the first ship of the United States Navy to be designed and built from the keel up as an aircraft carrier. Ranger was a relatively small ship, closer in size and displacement to the first United States aircraft carrier, USS Langley, than later ships. An island superstructure was not included in the original design, but was added after completion. Ranger was one of only three pre-war U.S. aircraft carriers to survive World War II, although unlike the others, she spent most of the war in non-combat roles.
The USS Ranger was brought over from the Atlantic to Hawaii in the closing months of 1941, nearly a year after the war between the United States and Japan had begun. The U.S. had learned its lessons from its previous battle with Japan, and had begun amassing planes and carriers at Hawaii. Ranger was not the ideal carrier, having been a training vessel prior to the war, but as most of the Pacific fleet's carriers were sunk, the U.S. could not afford to be picky.
Ranger was the centerpiece of a renewed U.S. attempt to attack Japanese positions in the Pacific in December, 1941. That battle again went poorly for the U.S.; the Boise, for example, was sunk when a Japanese bomb landed on her deck. Ranger survived several bombing attempts, however, and even rescued men who'd landed in the water, such as Pete McGill. McGill was reassigned to the Ranger after he recovered sufficiently from the injuries he'd sustained when Boise sank.